How to tell if an online hotel review is fake

If you are a frequent traveller, you may find yourself needing to select your hotel based on a myriad of online travel websites (like Travelocity, TripAdvisor, Expedia, AAA, Yelp, or others) that not only offer you the lowest price for booking your hotel stay, but also offer what should be the best crowdsourced advice on whether that specific hotel will meet – or not meet – your needs.

Travelling for business has one set of needs; travelling for pleasure has another.  Travelling with kids? You may need to avoid staying at a high-end hotel if only because the kids won’t appreciate it as much as you would.  Travelling alone? Maybe quiet, security and safety are your primary concerns.

And as always, accurate reviews of hotel location in relation to local attractions or transportation is always a help.

Hotel Front Office Management
Hotel Front Office Management

But what may be easy to determine in one city or country may be much more difficult when looking at hotel reviews for a more unfamiliar locale.

Web Watch should have placed less trust in these hotel reviews on a recent trip.  Oh, if you read between the lines you may be able to ascertain what was or wasn’t real in the write-up… but that didn’t help us after we had already checked in and began to understand that “sleeping with the windows open allowed us to experience the fresh country air” really meant “you will be woken up by the incessent sound of roosters at 4am”.

So what is an intrepid traveller as yourself supposed to do? Well, it’s easy:

Take that online review you just read and paste it into the REVIEW SKEPTIC website.  Using data handled from Cornell University, REVIEW SKEPTIC will identify — with 90% accuracy — whether that hotel review is legit or a bit more questionable.

We went back to hotel reviews for the hotel we mentioned above and ran some tests… and wouldn’t you know it?  While many reviews were deemed TRUTHFUL, there were a fair number that the site was flagging as DECEPTIVE.

If only we had known about Review Skeptic before.  We might not have changed our travel plans, but we would have been more aware of what we were getting ourselves into.

And when it comes to unfamiliar travel, knowing in advance is half the battle.